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Folate and folic acid: A guide for nurses working in primary care

Diet Malnutrition
Sara Patience explains the latest guidance on folic acid supplementation, and who needs it

Since 1991, recommendations have existed for folic acid supplementation pre conception and during the first trimester of pregnancy for the prevention of neural tube defects. However, evidence demonstrates that this policy is not working. In June 2019, theGovernment started a 12-week consultation into the fortification of flour with folic acid to prevent neural tube defects in unborn babies, suggesting this could prevent up to 200 birth defects each year.1

Neural tube defects (NTDs) are defects of the brain, spinal cord and spine of a foetus where the spine, cord or surrounding vertebrae fail to develop properly. The two main forms of NTDs are anencephaly and spina bifida. It is estimated that 1000 NTD affected pregnancies are diagnosed in the UK each year, ending in termination, miscarriage, death soon after birth or long term disability.1

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